Winged Altarpiece with Scenes from the Life of the Virgin [right wing: The Nativity (t.), The Adoration of the Magi (b.) [recto]; St Nicholas [verso]

Winged Altarpiece with Scenes from the Life of the Virgin [right wing: The Nativity (t.), The Adoration of the Magi (b.) [recto]; St Nicholas [verso]

Title

Winged Altarpiece with Scenes from the Life of the Virgin [right wing: The Nativity (t.), The Adoration of the Magi (b.) [recto]; St Nicholas [verso]

[cda 2022]

Painting on hardwood

Medium

Painting on hardwood

[Blumenroth, Heydenreich, unpublished examination report, 23.08.2021]

This panel is the right wing of a small triptych with representations from the Life of the Virgin. The inner side is divided by a black band into two registers. The upper register depicts the Nativity. Shown here in a simple architectural setting with a large opening in the wall

This panel is the right wing of a small triptych with representations from the Life of the Virgin. The inner side is divided by a black band into two registers. The upper register depicts the Nativity. Shown here in a simple architectural setting with a large opening in the wall for a window. Dominating the image is the mother who kneels with her child bedded on the corner of her gown. Joseph kneels behind the child, protecting the flame of the candle that illuminates the 'Holy Night'. Through the wall opening two shepherds can be seen deep in conversation and their sheep are visible on a hill beyond. Both the infant Christ and Virgin’s head are enhanced by an aureole of light rays.

The lower register shows the Adoration of the Magi. Shown again in a simple architectural setting with a large opening in the wall for a window, revealing a forest landscape with a fortress. The Virgin is shown at the centre of the composition with the infant Christ on her lap, each holds a gold coin given to them by the eldest king, who kneels in front of them at the left. The other two kings are represented at the right, and a further six men from their entourage stand behind the Virgin.

The outer side or reverse of the panel shows a full-length representation of St Nicholas facing out towards the viewer and standing on a light coloured floor against a monochrome dark background. He dresses as a bishop with a mitre and a crozier. He holds a book in his left hand with three gold nuggets balanced on top of it.

[cda 2022]

Attributions
Workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder
Circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder

Attributions

Workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder

[Blumenroth, Heydenreich, unpublished examination report, 23.08.2021]

Circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder

School of Lucas Cranach [Körner 1931, 120-121]

Production date
about 1515 - 1518

Production date

about 1515 - 1518

[Blumenroth, Heydenreich, unpublished examination report, 23.08.2021]

Dimensions
Dimensions of visible painted surface: 40.5 x 11.4 cm (inner side); 41.4 x 11.3 cm (outer side)

Dimensions

  • Dimensions of visible painted surface: 40.5 x 11.4 cm (inner side); 41.4 x 11.3 cm (outer side)

  • Dimensions with frame: 53.5 x 15.8 x 2.2 cm

  • Dimensions of the whole altarpiece: 53.5 x 63.6 cm (open, including frame)

  • [Blumenroth, Heydenreich, unpublished examination report, 23.08.2021]

Signature / Dating
None
Owner
Private Collection
Repository
LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur, Münster
Location
Münster
CDA ID
PRIVATE_NONE-P527c
FR (1978) Nr.
FR-none
Persistent Link
https://lucascranach.org/en/PRIVATE_NONE-P527c/

Provenance

  • It may originally have been commissioned by a citizen of Aachen, where in the 19th century it was the property of Louis Beissel (1842-1914), a manufacturer of sewing pins.
    LWL-Newsroom, accessed 09.03.2023
  • Schwartz Collection, Bocholt (Körner, Rodenkirchen, 1931)
  • Private collection, Rheine
    [Blumenroth, Heydenreich, unpublished examination report, 23.08.2021]

Literature

Reference on page Catalogue Number Figure / Plate
Körner, Rodenkirchen 1931 120, 121
AuthorJohannes Körner, Nikolaus Rodenkirchen
TitleStadt Bocholt
SeriesDie Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler von Westfalen
Place of PublicationMunich
Year of Publication1931

Research History / Discussion

Some of the characteristics of the support, the ground, the underdrawing, the painting materials and the technique correspond with works created in the Cranach workshop. The execution of the underdrawing is similar to the method employed by Lucas Cranach the Elder, however details differ from works attributed to him. The calligraphic line at the bottom edge of the central panel could not yet be deciphered.

Many stylistic points of reference can be found between this work and other works from the Cranach workshop, particularly for example a panel from 1516 illustrating the 10 Commandments in Wittenberg. Details like fabric patterns are found on various paintings, for example 'The Lamentation of Christ' (about 1515-1516), 'The Adoration of the Magi' (about 1513-16) and 'The Adoration of the Magi' (about 1515). Numerous similarities were established between this retable and four small panels attributed to the Cranach workshop and dated to about 1516, now in the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden.

An evaluation of the examination results leads us to believe that this retable, which is painted with such high-quality was in all probability produced about 1515-18 in the Cranach workshop.

[Blumenroth, Heydenreich, unveröffentlichter Untersuchungsbericht, 23.08.2021]

  • Winged Altarpiece with Scenes from the Life of the Virgin [right wing: The Nativity (t.), The Adoration of the Magi (b.) [recto]; St Nicholas [verso], about 1515 - 1518

Images

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Technical studies

23.08.2021Technical examination / Scientific analysis

  • Stereomicroscopy
  • UV-light photography
  • Instrumental material analysis
  • Infrared reflectography
  • X-radiography

Support

The following methods were employed during the examination: stereomicroscopy, XRF spectroscopy (Nitron XLt), UV-light, x-radiography, Infrared reflectography (Osiris 900 - 1700 nm)

The panel consists of a single hardwood board.

Ground and Imprimatura

A barbe or crest of ground has been preserved along the edges of the panel (see x-radiograph), suggesting that frame members were attached to the panel before the ground was applied. It may be assumed that the panels were fixed in their origin frame before the ground was applied as the dimensions of the painted surface on the inner and outer sides of the wings differ.

Underdrawing

Clearly pronounced underdrawing with a brush and /or quill pen employing a fluid black medium. On the outer sides the lines are dotted in sections. The aqueous drawing medium has beaded up on the oily isolating layer. The architectural elements and the figures are defined by contours and described in some detail, considering the scale of the image. Areas of shadow are occasionally indicated with hatching strokes.

No major changes to the composition were made during the painting process.

Paint Layers and Gilding

Using XRF analysis various elements were detected in the paint and after a comparison of their optical characteristics the following pigments could be identified:

Yellow: Pb, Ca, Sn, Fe, Cu, Mn, Sr, Hg

Pb: lead white; Pb/ Sn: lead tin yellow; Ca: chalk/gypsum? Fe/Mn: iron oxide/ ochre; Cu: blue/green with copper content?; Hg: vermillion; Sr:?

Blue: Cu, Pb, Ca, Fe, Sr

Cu: blue with copper content/azurite; Pb: lead white; Ca: chalk/ gypsum? Fe: iron oxide/ ochre; Sr:?

Green: Cu, Pb, Ca, Sn, Fe, Sr, (Zn)

Cu: green with copper content; Pb: lead white; Pb/ Sn: lead tin yellow; Ca: chalk/ gypsum? Fe: iron oxide/ ochre; Sr: ?; Zn?: lake substrate? retouching?

Red lake: Pb, Ca, Zn, Mn, Fe, Sr

Pb: lead white; Zn: zinc, retouching, lake substrate? Ca: chalk/ gypsum? Fe/ Mn: iron oxide/ ochre; Sr: ?

Red: Ca, Hg, Pb, Zn, Fe, Mn

Ca: chalk/ gypsum? Hg: vermillion; Pb: lead white, Zn: zinc white, retouching? lake substrate?; Fe/Mn: iron oxide/ ochre

The following pigments were identified in the paint layers: lead white, lead tin yellow, vermillion, azurite and a green pigment containing copper. The zinc detected in the areas of red paint and the fluorescence of this area in UV light indicate the presence of retouching and overpaint applied as a glaze.

The paint was applied with a brush in opaque layers and as a glaze. In the robes the paint was in part stippled (see x-radiograph) and the patterns on the floor tiles were scratched into the paint with a pointed object. In the x-radiograph no major changes are visible in the composition.

Framing

Gilded frame (not original)

[Blumenroth, Heydenreich, unveröffentlichter Untersuchungsbericht, 23.08.2021]

Condition Reports

Date23.08.2021

The altarpiece is generally stable and in very good condition.

The areas of red paint and the sky were overpainted with a glaze to increase the colour saturation. The gilding on the frame is flaking and requires consolidation.

[Blumenroth, Heydenreich, unpublished examination report, 23.08.2021]

Citing from the Cranach Digital Archive

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